West Hollywood minimum hourly wage tops $19, highest of any US city

WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif. (AP) — The posh, celebrity-studded city of West Hollywood officially has the highest minimum wage of any U.S. city after wages soared to $19.08 an hour on Saturday.

West Hollywood workers welcomed the increase amid rising rent, gas and food prices, though employers complained about rising labor costs which, they think could drive them out of business.

Lucian Tudor, general manager of upscale restaurant La Boheme, told the Los Angeles Times he had cut staff from 120 to 80 to cut costs. The city’s minimum wage jumped $1 in January to $17.50 an hour for businesses with at least 50 employees.

“These wage increases are about superficiality and opportunistic politicians just trying to make a name for themselves,” said Tudor, who would prefer a minimum wage that takes into account tips like New York’s.

West Hollywood, nestled between the cities of Beverly Hills and Los Angeles, has a population of around 35,000.

The minimum wage also increased in other cities on Saturday.

San Francisco’s minimum wage increased by more than a dollar to $18.07 an hour. Los Angeles is now $16.78 an hour and the minimum wage in Washington, DC is $17, down from $16.10 an hour.

For workers in Los Angeles hotels with 60 or more rooms, the minimum wage rose to $19.73 an hour on Saturday, from $18.86 previously. Santa Monica hotel workers also saw their pay rise to $19.73.

Seattle had the highest minimum wage of any US city in January when its hourly rate rose to $18.69.

Norberto Ruiz, who works at a liquor store in West Hollywood, told the Los Angeles Times that a raise last summer allowed his family to buy a $150 air conditioner.

“I don’t think people understand how much an extra dollar or two can change people’s lives,” Ruiz told the outlet.

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